Tuesday, 24 December 2013

What India can do differently?



  
After the Devyani Khobraghade episode, there was an outrage in India by the diplomats, media and people in general. Just as there were many America bashers, there were many American supporters who claim that the whole incident was politicized. May be yes, may be no. But what has politics to do with former president Abdul Kalam or former defence minister George Fernandes getting a patting down at airports, or our actors being harassed at the airport by immigration when the passport, visa etc are stamped and clear. One may say it is routine. 

Fine, let the Americans arriving here be given a patting down by our CISF personnel. There appears to be a method to their madness. But one thing is clear, friendship and bilateral relations should be based on equality. Many who have experienced American high-handedness at visa offices, immigration, airports and elsewhere will bear me out. The Americans expect special privileges in India and Indians in some cases have gone overboard to offer them the same. Give them the same treatment you give to citizens of other countries in India.

India is perceived to be a soft-state. ‘Atiti devo bhavo’ towards guests is fine, but the Indian hospitality should not be construed as weakness. In the north, we have China kicking us, Pakistan from time to time violates ceasefire unilaterally and even pushes terrorists into our side to bleed India. A tiny country like Togo holds our sailors illegally. America and some other European countries try to push us on policies. Even the Middle-East countries act stubborn at times. All this must change. India must act. It needs to be proactive, not re-active and defensive. Just as Brazil has shown the Americans; if you can pat or frisk their citizens, they too can do it and do it even better. Tit for tat diplomacy works and is respected. I wonder how the Americans will feel when they are patted down or frisked by menacing looking CISF men at the Indian airport?

This reminds me of cricket. Earlier nobody bothered about India. In the 40s and 50s, we played to show the British that Indians too could play the game. The in 60s and 70s, Indians would play not to loose badly and later to draw the test matches. This mindset changed in the 80s and 90s. Now the new generation of cricketers don’t care who the opposition is, they just want to win. They represent the new India that is ready to take on the world. That should be the attitude in other spheres too. Now the BCCI and Indian cricketers are respected and heard all over the cricketing world.


This attitude and spirit should percolate down to every Indian. Dignity and self-respect is more important, be it American or any country. India is recognized as a growing power with a steady rising economy. The world is looking at India and China, the growing economies in the world. Our politicians need to grasp this fact and behave in a mature and forceful manner keeping in mind the nation’s size, economy and influence in the comity of nations.


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